The C.S. Lewis Foundation presents the essential reading list for the 2011 C.S. Lewis Summer Institute at Oxbridge. Based on our conference theme of “Paradigms of Hope: Transcending Chaos and Transforming Culture,” these are the books that registrants should acquaint themselves with. They can be found through our bookstore, powered by Amazon (the C.S. Lewis Foundation receives a percentage of the proceeds from purchases made through our bookstore).
Colson, Charles with Nancy Pearcy. How Now Shall We Live?
The winner of the 2000 Gold Medallion Award from Christianity Today magazine, How Now Shall We Live is Charles Colson’s explanation of the Christian life. It is, he argues, much more than just a personal relationship with Christ. It is that, but it is also a worldview with the power to shape and mold culture in a deep and profound way. Colson sets out to answer life’s greatest questions, and to answer the eponymous inquiry: “How shall we live?”
Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling
Andy Crouch argues in this book that Christians too often have shirked their responsibility to create culture in its various forms: art, music, literature, etc. Instead, he believes, Christians have participated in misguided “wars” against culture, and critiques of it, without ever offering any realistic replacement for the object of our critique. This book won the 2009 Christianity Today Book Award.
Hunter, James D. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
In this provocative book, James Hunter argues against the traditional understandings of how Christians can transform culture. Critiquing several high-profile Christian leaders, Hunter calls for a radical reappraisal of how Christians live their lives and exemplify their faith. He is opposed to faith-inspired politics, which he argues often exacerbates problems. Instead, he favors an approach that infuses faith with every aspect of life.
L’Engle, Madeleine. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
From Amazon’s product description: “What makes art Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.”
Mangalwadi, Vishal. The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization
From Amazon’s product description: “In the 1960s many from the West went to the East in search of spiritual wisdom. The Book That Made Your World reverses the journey. Vishal Mangalwadi, an Indian philosopher, takes readers on a historical journey through the last millennium, exploring why and how the Bible reformed Europe and made the West a uniquely thinking civilization: technical and tolerant, scientific and free, just and prosperous.”
Marsden, George. The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief
John Harvard was a clergyman. Now, Harvard University is seen as a veritable bastion of secularism, along with the other Ivy League schools as a whole. In this book, George Marsden chronicles this long transition, exploring the roots and causes of the departure of these universities (and American education as whole) from their religious background, and what that means for the role Christianity plays in transforming culture through higher education.
Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture
Written over half a century ago, Niebuhr’s treatment of the relationship between Christ (and Christianity) and culture remains a classic. He articulates five different positions that a Christian might hold, which he neatly separates. There is “Christ against Culture,” “Christ of Culture,” “Christ above Culture,” “Christ in Paradox with Culture,” and, finally, “Christ the Transformer of Culture.” He favors the last one, and makes the case for this relationship, which has been influential ever since.
Pearce, Joseph. Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief
In the 20th century, there were many famous English writers who converted to Christianity (specifically Catholicism and Anglicanism). Such literary luminaries range from the still well-known–such as C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton–to the more obscure–such as Dorothy Sayers, Ronald Knox, and Edith Sitwell. Joseph Pearce’s book documents the spiritual journeys and insights of these authors.
Willard, Dallas. Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge
Dallas Willard argues in Knowing Christ Today that Christian truth is something that can be claimed as knowledge. A series of chapters that are derived from his lectures, the book briefly addresses questions such as God’s existence as well as the resurrection of Christ. This is a book devoted to making an intellectual case for the Christian faith, but also has devotional value for its impact on Christian life. For, it is clear, what is believed by culture to be true has a tremendous effect on society.